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Apollo Tyres SA opened a new hi-tech component preparation unit at its Ladysmith plant recently in an investment worth R300 million.
Directors from its Indian parent company, Apollo Tyres International, including chairman Onkar Kanwar and vice-chairman Neeraj Kanwar, were in KwaZulu-Natal for the opening. They were joined by the high commissioner of India, Virendra Gupta; KZN premier Zweli Mkhize; Apollo Tyres SA chief executive Luis Ceneviz; and Uthukela district mayor Dudu Mazibuko.
According to the group, the main objective for developing the unit was to improve quality and productivity at its Ladysmith and Durban plants.
Ceneviz said the new unit would see an increase in tyre production to 13 000 daily in Ladysmith and 1 200 daily in Durban. Before the investment the Ladysmith plant had a manufacturing capacity of 11 000 tyres daily and Durban 1 000.
The unit, in a new 6500m2 building, was designed to facilitate future growth. This could take production to 15 000 tyres a day in Ladysmith and 1 500 in Durban. An additional R4.5m was also invested in a closed-circuit cooling system for the extruders in both the old and new plant.
“Apollo Tyres South Africa is part of one of the fastest-growing tyre companies in the world, Apollo Tyres Limited, which has its head office in Delhi,” Ceneviz said.
“It is a global leader in the design and manufacture of quality, technologically-advanced tyres including passenger, 4x4, truck, off-the-road, bus and speciality tyres for the agricultural and industrial sectors.”
Ceneviz said since it acquired the Dunlop Tyre brand in 2006, Apollo had invested R700m in the company through industrial and factory upgrades.
“This is in alignment with recent developments following Indian President Pratibha Patil’s recent state visit to South Africa whereby President Jacob Zuma announced a trade target agreement between South Africa and India of $15 billion per year by 2014,” he said.
Apollo Tyres has an annual turnover of more than $2.5bn (R20.8bn) and a workforce of 16 000 internationally.
The group produces 438 524 tons of tyres annually and exports its products to more than 79 markets around the world.
Kanwar’s leadership in the 1980s and 90s, saw Apollo Tyres first emerge as a major player in the tyre manufacturing industry.
He said the company spared no expense in installing state-of-the-art equipment in its factories, with the best machinery from Finland, the US, Japan and Canada in its manufacturing plants.
“The Ladysmith plant forms one of the company’s nine technologically advanced manufacturing facilities,” he said.
“The component preparation unit has been designed to increase productivity while ensuring that stringent international safety and quality standards are met, thus bringing customers and roads a premium performance tyre.”